August 25, 2018 will mark the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, and events are already being planned worldwide. Celebrations kick off on August 25, 2017 (the start of Bernstein’s 100th year), and run through the 2018–19 season.
2018 is an important year for classical music — it is the year the world comes together to celebrate the centennial of Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990). As a composer, conductor, educator, and humanitarian, Bernstein is regarded as a singular figure in American cultural history. Known for his visceral and life-affirming compositions, Bernstein created music that has echoed through generations; his contributions to the orchestral, choral, opera, dance, and chamber music repertoire have been championed by performers from around the globe.
Leonard Bernstein was the most visible personality in classical music during the twentieth century and continues to be one of the most widely performed composers. While incorporating such elements as the rhythmic vitality of jazz and the lyrical intensity of art song, Bernstein managed to consolidate disparate musical roots, creating a diverse and wholly unique body of work.
In addition to beloved, legendary works like West Side Story, Bernstein composed numerous pieces for the concert hall. Timeless compositions such as Chichester Psalms, The Age of Anxiety (Symphony No. 2), Mass, and the Concerto for Orchestra ("Jubilee Games") highlight only a small fraction of Bernstein’s great oeuvre. A number of suites and other arrangements have been constructed from works that involve theatrical elements: the popular Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and the Overture to Candide have solidified their places in the great canon of orchestral repertoire; two suites from Dybbuk and the Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free offer Bernstein’s ballet music in an alternate concert setting; and the Meditations from Mass (in several combinations) provide a taste of the composer’s immense interpretation of the liturgy of the Eucharist.
As a conductor, Bernstein worked with many of the world’s most prestigious organizations. He was the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958–1969, and, thereafter, Conductor Emeritus—he is widely credited for shaping the orchestra into what it is today. His relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra was especially fruitful, having conducted the ensemble during 30 distinct seasons. Bernstein was also a fixture at the Tanglewood Music Center and Festival throughout his career. In addition, his associations with other orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra have made lasting impressions on the musical world through performances and recordings.
Bernstein was also recognized in his lifetime as one of the world’s most engaging music educators, giving a public image to an artistic discipline many felt at distance from. He introduced the world to classical music through his popular "Young People’s Concerts" (a series that continues to this day at the New York Philharmonic), and molded a generation of conductors, with many helming today’s top ensembles. Even today Bernstein’s educational influence is being felt through his educational reform program, Artful Learning.
Through his inspiring approach to life and music, Leonard Bernstein put his stamp on the world, and 2018 will mark a year of reflection and remembrance of one of the most iconic figures in music history. Boosey & Hawkes is proud to invite musicians from across the globe to celebrate the centennial of Leonard Bernstein.
To learn more about Leonard Bernstein and his works, please visit www.boosey.com/bernstein.
Please let us know of your plans for the Bernstein centennial by emailing your local Boosey & Hawkes office:
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